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The dream of having a practical electric vehicle from South Africa has ended. At least, for now. Optimal Energy, which first trotted out its Keith Helfet-designed Joule at the 2008 Paris Motor Show has announced that it is shutting down.

The credit crunch is not only playing havoc with plans at Tesla and other green (or not) car companies. Indeed, the effects of the financial crises are global and so it comes as little surprise that Optimal Energy, the South African company that recently showed off it's all-electric Joule at the Paris Motor Show, is now saying that they expect their car to take a little longer to bring into existence than first suggested. The companys need about $130 million to build an assembly plant and that k

Even though word slipped out early about their upcoming all-electric car appearing at the 2008 Paris Motor Show, Optimal Energy played its cards pretty close to its chest and kept their web presence on the down low. Now that the world has been officially introduced to the MPV-sized Joule, the South African company has completely redone its website so we can now better examine their creation and learn more of its features. They have also released video of the car's presentation to a select audien

The first images of the Joule from Optimal Energy have now turned up on the interwebs. The Joule will be officially unveiled this week in Paris at the Motor Show. The six-seat hatchback stores energy in a lithium ion battery pack that can nominally propel it for about 120 miles. A second pack can be added that doubles the range. The plan is to eventually offer packs from a number of suppliers with different characteristics. This would allow drivers to opt for longer range or more performance. So

Optimal Energy is the latest company to announce that they are unveiling a new electric car at the Paris Motor Show this year and it's one that should definitely impress. Coming all the way from South Africa, the Joule may very well be the world's most practical electric car to date as well as one of the more stylish. Although it has been shown to a handful of journalists there haven't yet been any published photos but it has been described as "an uncluttered mix of a Renault Scenic and a Citroe